Return to Index Page: Shakespeare’s Lost Sonnets

Shakespeare’s Lost Sonnets: A Restoration of the Runes
by Roy Neil Graves, Professor of English
The University of Tennessee at Martin

Set VI, Runes 71-84: Texts and Comments
Copyright © Roy Neil Graves 2003, All Rights Reserved        

Proceed to Rune 85
Proceed to the Index of Set VII
Return to the Index of Set VI


Rune 84
Fourteenth lines, Set VI (Sonnets 71-84)

                         Rune 84

     (Fourteenth lines, Set VI: Sonnets 71-84)

     And mock you with me after I am gone,
     And so should you, to love things nothing worth,         
     To love that well which thou must leave ere long—    
 4  And that is this, and this with thee remains.
     Or gluttoning on all, or all away,
     So is my love still telling what is told. 
     Shall profit thee (and much enrich thy book,         
 8  As high as learning) my rude ignorance,
     Since what he owes thee thou thyself dost pay.
     The worst was this: My love was my decay
     Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.
12 Where cheeks need blood, in thee it is; abused,
     Then, both your poets can in praise devise
     Being fond on praise—which makes your praises worse!
     Glosses: 1-2) And = Both [with And (OED 1520)]; the initial And puns ironically on End; gone and so should pun on John and Sue, S. Hall; 2) puns: Anne, Sue, S. Hall, “no-things”as pudenda; 3) well puns on inkwell, source, and Will; leave suggests “leaf through”; 4) with thee remains puns, “witty e’er m’ Anne [S.] is”; 5) Or = Either; ...g on all puns on John Hall; 6) So puns on Sue; telling and told suggest tallying, tallied, and thus “numbers,” metrics; 7) Shall puns on S. Hall; 8) pun: Eye Scheisse learning, merd ignorance; 9) he = thy book (see 7), my...ignorance (see 8); 13) both your poets puns on “author of Sonnets and Runes”; devise = divide, create, bequeath; 14) fond = foolish, doting.                                    

    84. Both Your Poets

     My friend, go ahead and let me and my verses ridicule you after I am gone,     
     and rightly so, because you love worthless things,
     and love those writings that you must be separated from before long—
  4 I mean these poems, which actually remain with you after I leave.
     Either feasting on everything or totally gone,
     thus my love repeats itself, still counting what is already numbered, narrating an old story.    
     You will profit (and your book will be as much enriched from it
  8 as from erudition) from my crude ignorance,
      since what my ignorant writing owes you, you yourself supply to compensate.
     The worst part was this: My love for you caused deterioration
      of the powers of speech.
12 Where cheeks need life-giving energy, you provide it. Rhetoric being corrupted,
      then, the writer of the Sonnets and of these Runes can, as tribute, only practice
      playing the foolish sycophant—making these poems of praise worse!


          This end-line string, which speculates about the fate of Will’s works, both deprecates them and rationalizes their “weaknesses.” As author of Sonnets and Runes, he is “both your poets” (13). Various analogs underscore this dual role: the paradox that what “leaves,” stays (3-4); the condition of feast or famine (5); “learning” and “ignorance” (8); and two cheeks, counterpoised (11, 12). Among other doublets, the poem has a near-couplet ending and many other paired elements: e.g., And (1-2); you (1-2); to love (2-3); this (4); or, all (5); so (2, 6); as (8); was, my (10); breath[s](11); Where (11-12); and praise[s](13-14).

          The word “abused” (12), which may modify “both your poets,” adds witty complications but also helps unriddle the text. Because lines 10-12 show concern for deteriorating “oral” skills while mentioning “cheeks,” a funny meaning of “both” (13) is “both cheeks” or “opposed gums.” “Abused” also puns on “bussed” (1570) as “kissed.” Since cheeks can be facial or posterior features, “both your poets” is a joke about these dualities, about kissing them, and about “praise” from either orifice. “Poets,” an impolite onomatopoeic play, puns on “breaks wind.”

           “Abuse” also has the rhetorical sense of catachresis (1589), a malapropism or a forced, paradoxical figure of speech. Much here and elsewhere in Q would qualify—e.g., the paradoxes of 3-4; of 5; of 6; and of 8-9. Lines 10-11 joke about bad breath, and the zigzag progression from “worth” (2) to “worst” (10) to “worse” (14) suggests deterioration.

           A two-pronged motif focuses on writing and economics, both linked by Will’s profit motive and concern for “worth” in Q’s scheme of numbers. His “poor” poems, the “things nothing worth,” will mock the friend after his death (see 1-2). Routine puns on “well” (i.e., inkwell, Will, source) and “leave” (i.e., put to paper, imprint, impart) occur in 3. To “tell” (see 6) means both narrate and tally. Other economic terms are “profit,” “enrich,” “owes,” “pay,” “both,” “devise,” and the puns “cents” and “worths.”

           Amid these practical concerns, coy plays occur about Thomas Thorpe, the T.T. of Q’s frontmatter, a man who expedited its publication. Q’s thou must (e.g., 3), e.g., generates a full form of “Thomas T.” in the pun “Too low that (Too-loaded..., Diluted...) well which Thomas T.’ll leave ere long. And ‘Tho. T.’ is ‘Th’s,’ and ‘Th’s’ witty our man is (...menace)...” (3-4). Here Q’s leaue suggests “leaf” or “(will) imprint,” punning on “lever” and “will heave,” both verbs suggesting the physical act of hand printing.

           Lines 11-12 pun “W., Harry, be read (...bared, ...buried)” and “W., Harry, see...,” playing on Henry Wriothesley, Southampton, Will’s only known patron.

           Puns about the Runegame and Runes include one in 1-3 that goes, “Endemic queue witty, hymns t’ err, iamb gone, end of ‘O-folio’ too lewd inks nothing worthy to love.” A concurrent pun runs, “...I am gone, end of ‘O’ [i.e., = Round/Rune], foul duet o’ low things nothing worth.” One point is that Will in these 14 end-lines comprising Rune 84 is closing out Set VI. “Ended is this, and this witty remains” (4) makes the same point. Lines 8-9 describe in Q’s usual phono-alphabetic code the process by which we investigate the runes: “A shy ass, leering in, gamier you dig, in our rune see sin, sweet-housed, heady...” The question “Why are you digging?” (code ...y r u deig-n...) is concurrent in 8.

           Plays occur on Anne, Sue, Judy, and Ham —i.e., Anne Hathaway, Susanna [Hall], and the twins Judith and Hamnet Shakespeare—and on John Hall, Will’s son-in-law. Suggesting a family focus early are “I am John” and “eye m’ John and Sue, S. Hall t’ you, two love-things know” (1-2). Other examples include these: “With me after Ham., John and Sue, S. Hall, duet o’ love-things” (1-2); “mystery eye, m’ John and Sue” (1-2); “with thee our man is, whore-gluttoning John Hall” (4-6); “Sue eyed it here, m’ Anne S., our Glutton...” (4-5); and “John Hall o’er, Hall away, Sue is my love still” (5-6). Q’s letterstrings sw and sew can encode both “Sue” and “John” [= w = IN]; thus line 14 houses complex nameplays on the couple: e.g., “Being found, O, in pair, eye Sue/John H. aye, see home-makes [i.e., mates], your pair aye see, Sue/John...” (14). The endword “...worse” encodes “war see,” “whore-fee,” “John-whore see,” and so on. Various other closing puns here include “Witch makes Europe rise as Orfay [i.e., Orfeus]” and “Europe rises, war see” (14).

           Some (typically inconclusive) puns seem to be about Sue and Judy’s relative sizes: e.g., “Sue is my lowest, ill-telling Judy [Q g what i] is tall as Hall” (6-7) and “S. Hall proved [...parasite; ...parricide] thin”(7); these comments on height occur as Will remarks on “high...learning” (8). (The textual contradictions in As You Like It [see 1.2.53 and 1.3.111] about the relative heights of Rosalind and Celia come to mind.)

           Routine, denigrating puns occur on “Anne” (easily encoded, e.g., as And, in, W [= IN]) and on “Hathaway” (code, e.g., hat we [3], hat he owe [9]). Extended examples include “...Anne see [overlaid on Q’s ignorance], Ass Anne [= in] see, Anne [= w] Hathaway is that haughty self, a dusty bay...” (8-9) and “Anne is offal, due to lewd inks, nothing worth to lewd Hathaway. Lodged home, used to liver (...lever), low engine did Hat. eye...(2-4).”

           The line about eating (5) seems peripheral but is subtly prepared for by “remains” (4) as “leftovers.” “All or nothing” is its point. The overlaid puns “Mister, I-am-John,” “Mister I-Am-Gone,” “misty rhyme gone,” “mystery iamb (A.M.) gone” (1) are insistent and, as usual, irreducible and non-exclusive.

Sample Puns

          1) Endemic cue (queue) witty, mystery, eye m’ John; And m’ “O” see, quiet hymn, after I am gone; Endemic, you, John [w = IN], eyed “Mister I-am-John”; Endemic ewe witty, m’ ass t’ ram, John; iamb
          1-2) witty Mysterium Jonah ends; Jonah in deaf O’s fold you; John, eying Dis, owe S. Hall duty
          2) foul duet o’ low things, “no-thing” warty; S. Hall, dawdle, Ovid in jest an oath injured
          2-3) earthed, old Ovid hid well; Warty “O” low, that well, witch, th’ “O” muffed, leave
          3) Two loved Hat. well; W.H. I cheat; eye shit; Eve; Vere
          3-4) Thomas, deliver a long-hand, dead hiatus t’ hiss; witch to whom you fit’ll, ever long, chant the teased hiss, and this with thee (witty) remains; liver, loin jaunty Hat. is—this Anne, these witty remains; home you, Shakespeare, leave early on, chanted I; leave her longing; leave ear [pudendal], long inch
          4) main; Anne dead, Hat., eye, Southy, sent this way; Southy remains; eye Swede hit Harry; hairy my anus (Annie S.)
          4-5) Annie’s oracle you’d atone (you, T.T., own) in John Hall; witty our main [sea’s] oar; our man’s whore; main sore (menser)
          4-6) his witty, hairy man is whore, glutton, John Hall—our Eloise; oar, haul away
          5-6) John Hall or Eloise owes my love a still tail
          6) Sue is my love still; …my low, still tail, and Judy I stole; Sue, eye Semele still
          6-7) Sue, eye similes, tilde align, Judy is told S. Hall prose eyed; Sue eye, seamy, low, still, telling Judy’s tall as Hall; Judy stole, S. Hall profiteth
          7) handy muse, Henry cheat; S. Hall prose eyed thin, dim; you see gin [engine] rich, thy book; Anne, dim, huge, enraged; thin demiurge enriched High Book
           7-8) S. Hall, prow Southy, and much enrich thy bouquet; Tybalt kisses Lear; and muck enrich thy book, aye, Scheisse (ass-) learning mirrored ignorance; John, rich thy bouquet is
           8-9) in our rune see sin; unceasing, see weighty oaths t’ hate
           9) Sin see, W.H. I toast, hate haughty ass aloof; Sin Southy owes thee
           9-10) thou th’ eisell see, dost pay the worst way; you thistle seed oft buy
         10) The worst was, thy simile (Semele) was amid a sewer bare; mellow way, summit easy
         10-11) Semite Seer; weigh Semite sewer-breath; low was my dick aye…in the mouths of men; W., Harry, bareth most; th’ hymn-oath, soft Amen
         11) moist, bare, eye th’ swain in the mouths of men; men work
         11-12) you ninety modes o’ semen wear; semen, W., Harry, see accented below din; seaman W.H. here checks his needy, bloody end
         12) kiss Nate, be lewd; knight, it’s Abbie you f--ked
         12-13) lewd in Thetis, abused Hen be; “I’s,” abused, thin, bother poet’s can [ass?]; John praised wife
         13) your beau, Tuscan John praise; Hen bought Europe, O, Tuscan eye in Paris
         13-14) Paris devise, being fond on Paris, witch makes your Parises war, see (your Paris sewer see); Hen, bawdier, poots, Canaan praised he, wise being; eye fabian cheese undone; pray, eye fat wife, being fon (being’s undone)
         14) Be inches undone, pray, aye switch make sore peer-asses worse; Witch, Ma[t]e S., your praise is worse; wharf; W.H., eye Jamaica, sir, praise surf; Jamaica sewer; Don, pray, switch my kisser; W.H., itch, make syrup; racy sewer see; asses, war see

Acrostic Wit

          The downward acrostic codeline—A ATA OSS ASTWWT B—may mean, e.g., “Aye 80 ‘O’s’ [= Rounds = Runes] astute be,” “…sauced wit be,” “I a tease astute be,” “Eight asses, to wit, 8,” “…to wed 8,”and “Adios is astute (...a stout) ‘Bye’.” The adios seems to toward the fact that the set is ending. Mild scarilege lurks in the literal reading “A Dios [i.e., To God...] a stout bye (...a stout 8 [inches?]).” A kinder, gentler reading is “Aye Deus astute be.”

          The upward (reverse) code—B TWWTS AS SOATAA—suggests such readings “Be twats I sought aye (…sowed, Aaai!),” “Betty wets (Bitty wit is…) ass haughty,” “Bed wets aye Southy,” “Betoots ass, Swede I eye,” “Bitty wits assault I aye,” “Bitty wit is Ass Southy [= Southampton],” and “82 whets eyes sweet (...sweaty) aye.”

          TWWT (a palindrome) suggests twat but encodes other, more polite potentialities. The string AAT (i.e., 8), placed “fore,” (1-3) puns on 84, the rune number.

          One down/up hairpin reading is this: “Aye Deus a stoat [i.e., an ermine] be. To wit, his Ass White eye.” Part of the complex wit may lie in the fact that term stoat suggests the ermine in its brown summer coat (with a “brown Ass” having its own implications). The pun “thin demiurge enriched High Book” (in line 7 of the text, encoded as thee,an dm u ch inricht hy booke) may allude to this unique marginal embellishment of Scripture, since “thin demiurge” is a nice kenning for the acrostic codeline here. (One learns not to underestimate Will’s “Great Mind”—guessing that any wit one uncovers might first have glanced through the brain of the originator of the Runes.) “Thinned muck...” is an alternate phrase, for those who deny seeing Demiurge in the code letters or believe that Will wouldn’t have known the term. (One remembers that deferentially squeezing down the name of Deity was conventional—and that Will reputedly had some Greek.)

      End of Set VI
Proceed to Rune 85
Proceed to the Index of Set VII
Return to the Index of Set VI
Return to Index Page: Shakespeare’s Lost Sonnets